The [Wikipedia] world is not flat: On the organizational structure of online production communities

Ofer Arazy, Oded Nov, Felipe Ortega

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    Abstract

    The creation and maintenance of online production communities depend on the complex ecology created by the interaction of social roles, and these roles are essential for the governance of the community. This study investigates the organizational structure of one of the most notable peer-production projects: Wikipedia. While online communities have often been depicted as 'flat' and egalitarian, recent studies of Wikipedia suggest that it has developed a cumbersome beaurocratic structure that includes a hierarchy of organizational role. The objective of this study is, thus, to empirically study the organization of roles in Wikipedia and the hierarchy formed through their power relationships. Our research method employs Wikipedia's formal set of access privileges as indicators of roles, and analyses all 4,902,643 Wikipedia members (of which 10,496 hold special access privileges). Applying statistical techniques traditionally employed to validate the psychometric properties of scales, we find that Wikipedia has an intricate ecology of roles. Our analysis of power relationships within these twelve roles reveals Wikipedia's organizational hierarchy. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationECIS 2014 Proceedings - 22nd European Conference on Information Systems
    PublisherAssociation for Information Systems
    ISBN (Print)9780991556700
    StatePublished - 2014
    Event22nd European Conference on Information Systems, ECIS 2014 - Tel Aviv, Israel
    Duration: Jun 9 2014Jun 11 2014

    Publication series

    NameECIS 2014 Proceedings - 22nd European Conference on Information Systems

    Other

    Other22nd European Conference on Information Systems, ECIS 2014
    CountryIsrael
    CityTel Aviv
    Period6/9/146/11/14

    Keywords

    • Access privileges
    • Hierarchy
    • Organizational structure
    • Peer production
    • Social roles
    • Wikipedia

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Information Systems

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  • Cite this

    Arazy, O., Nov, O., & Ortega, F. (2014). The [Wikipedia] world is not flat: On the organizational structure of online production communities. In ECIS 2014 Proceedings - 22nd European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS 2014 Proceedings - 22nd European Conference on Information Systems). Association for Information Systems.